By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
The UEFA European Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid last Saturday evening descended into chaos before it had even started.
In fact, the match was delayed by 35 minutes, due, it is claimed by the French Sports Minister, Amelie Oudea-Castera, by a mass gathering of Liverpool supporters without tickets or with fake tickets. She added that local youths, who were trying to force their way into the stadium, made matters worse.
The French police have been criticised for firing pepper spray and tear gas at some Liverpool supporters, who were waiting to enter the Stade de France, where the event was held.
There is a meeting on Monday between the French Sports Ministry, the French Football Association, UEFA, the European football governing body, stadium officials and the police to “draw lessons” from the event.
The French Sports Minister expressed her regret that children were subjected to tear gas, but also remarked that the Real Madrid supporters did not pose any problems.
In any case, it has been said that the police concentrated on the English fans, in view of their history of football hooliganism, which has come to be known as ‘the English disease’.
The chaotic events on Saturday are a political embarrassment for France, which is due to host the Rugby World Cup next year and the Summer Olympic Games the following year.
With the addition of pitch invasions and spot fixing, the European game is getting rather a bad press these days and decisive action certainly needs to be taken to reverse this unfortunate trend and restore some order into the ‘beautiful game’!